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Friends and Peers

Theoretical frameworks and empirical research have long recognized peers as distinct sources of learning and development. A peer is a similar-age youth who interacts with the learner and may include classmates, schoolmates, neighborhood youth, participants in after-school programs, and friends, to name a few. Peer relationships vary by frequency and duration of contact, intimacy of the relationship, and quality of the relationship. For example, schoolmates may interact due to overlapping social contexts, but may interact infrequently and casually. On the other hand, friends may interact more frequently, and there is likely an affective component to the relationship—closeness, trust, and/or intimacy. Peers are unique out-of-school learning resources because of their close proximity in age to the learner, which may provide a safe space for exploration that ...

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